Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 9: Changelings

This episode has a lot of shiny fairies in it, starting with Rumple tormenting one with his aging spell to send an ominous message to the gang – because an aging spell can be used to speed pregnancy and allow him to force Belle to give birth so he can run off with their son

This is Belle’s constant fear all episode as she is torn between trying to keep herself and her son safe from him while at the same time still trying to appeal to his humanity, to the man she once loved. It’s a really nice ongoing conflict as Belle still wants to have some level of faith in him but ultimately knows that he has disappointed her time and time and time again – and this time a child is on the line not just her own affections

Which is what the EQ continues to prod and poke. I’m not even sure what the EQ even wants any more. Her alliance with Rumple is fraught to say the least, whatever semblance of affection they seem to have for each other is completely overwhelmed by their mutual need to find each other’s most vulnerable, painful spots and just stomp all over them.

Rumple pushes EQ to kill Zelena, holding out the promise of his affections to her if she does – thereby having EQ throw away her one potentially real ally. Regina is around to save Zelena from murder (and that was the worst magic fight ever, one fireball, really) and poke some more at EQ’s sore spots – because EQ has the same longing, the same “hole in her heart” that Regina had when she came to Storybrooke. The same desire for love, family et al – and ironically throws away Zelena form the. But isn’t that the story of EQ/Regina? Or Rumple for that matter? In fact, also Hades and evil frost woman from the Frozen Fanfic we Do Not Talk About, even Peter Pan and David’s evil twin brother and Cora and Zelena… The story of evil on this series is one of people who COULD have family, who even do have family but they inevitably stomp on it and drive it away pursuing something or someone else. Most of the evil characters on this show are not unloved and do not lack the potential for love and to love – in many ways almost all of them have actively sabotaged their families and loved ones until they drove them away

Ultimately, it’s the recurring good vs Evil theme beyond the Charming’s fluffiness: good relies on friends, family, contacts, trust, allies. Evil has no-one to trust or rely on and rests only on their own power, whatever alliances they have inevitably crumbling under the weight of their own greed, ambition and suspicion. While that same inability to trust others leads them, especially Rumple, to be more insecure and seek more power. It’s a good theme and it’s really well maintained – good doesn’t win because it’s more powerful or more special or morally right or fluffier: good wins because it has all the resources of being a team, while evil stands alone.

Of course, not all good is peaceful and friendly – Zelena is all ready to embrace sisterly happiness and reconciliation with Regina but Regina is clear: she saved Zelena’s life because that’s what hero’s do but she has not forgiven Zelena for Robin’s death (and nor should she. One of the things that annoyed us a lot about the last season was how quickly Zelena’s raping of Robin and involvement in his death was brushed over). Zelena protests about redemption and forgiveness – just like Regina has. Regina bites back “you’re not me”

Ok, this seems like a bit of an “I’m an exception” protest but I think there’s more to it than that. Has Regina achieved forgiveness and redemption? Yes, but the key word is “achieved”. She earned that, several times over. It was a path, a long and quite arduous one. Zelena is NOT Regina, Zelena has not walked that path. Zelena can’t just say “yay forgive me, good now!” and cite Regina as an example without acknowledging what Regina did.

What we also learn from this episode is that Rumple has a real burning issue against fairies – and we have some flashbacks to Rumple’s past when he imprisoned Belle as to why. He steals a baby and manipulates Belle just so he can summon… the Black Fairy. His Mother who abandoned him

Well that as an unexpected reveal (and also, Peter Pan + Black Fairy… ok not the best of starts in life). But, I’ll be honest I was far too busy being shamelessly excited by the presence of Jaime Murray than anything else. (It’s possible you may not be a Jaime Murray fan. This means you have no soul).

Rumple has mummy and daddy issues.

We continue to have painful emotional conflict with Belle and Rumple as he seems to have written off his relationship with Belle and is desperate to start afresh with his son all the while believing he cannot be loved… but he still can’t help but hang on to hope that they can reconcile. While Belle knows she can’t trust him again but still clings to hope that he could just try harder. It’s painful and melodramatic and not bad at all. Especially with the EQ interfering

Eventually, Rumple can’t bring himself to use the aging potion on Belle, can’t burn that last rickety bridge between them… but the EQ steps in, who seems to have no real motives now beyond “fuck it all.” And wearing fabulous clothes. She sneaks Belle the aging potion and, of course, Belle assumes it’s Rumple behind it. She flees to the nunnery to hide behind fairy magic to give birth. Then makes one desperate choice to keep her son safe from Rumple… she gives him to the fairies to find a new family for him, refusing to tell Rumple even his name

This whole love affair is the very definition of tragedy and bleakness – and normally I have no time for it, but it’s really well done and really sold by the actors.

I think the EQ has bitten off waaaay more than she can chew this time, though. The bad guys are going to be supremely focused on each other after this

Which may give us chance to explore the side plots – finally Jasmin and Aladdin are looking to go to Agrabah and have found a Genie lamp… which would be useful (but risky, genies are tricksters) if the genie hadn’t been freed… so Aladdin puts on the bracers to become the new genie of the lamp. This can backfire so very many ways

While Emma continues to have visions and flashbacks – this time seeing the sword that is going to kill her, and finding the sword in Rumple’s shop. So we can melt it down? Yes? No? Maybe?